How to Build a B2B Brand Your Customers Trust & Respect

How to Build a B2B Brand Your Customers Trust & Respect

JK Sparks 6 min

Search for the best branding strategies online, and websites will show you examples from famous B2C companies. It’s rare to see B2B branding that inspires loyalty and confidence as does that of brands like Nike or Apple.

Maybe that’s why one-quarter of B2B companies spend less than 20% of their marketing budget on branding, according to research.

Yet that’s no reason to underestimate the value of B2B branding. After all, B2B messaging is a different animal than B2C. Yet the value in brand marketing is there for either category. This same report, for example, found well-defined B2B brands offer 74% higher returns on their marketing dollar. And they hold a 46% larger market share than B2B companies with weaker brands.

The reason: B2B marketing works on the same psychological level as B2C marketing. With strong B2B brand awareness in your back pocket, you can increase your reach, build trust with B2B buyers, and accelerate sales. And you can do it all just like a B2C brand.

That just leaves one question: should B2B companies build their brands in a different way than popular consumer brands?

What You’ll Learn from This Article:

  1. The importance of B2B branding and its impact on market share, trust, and sales acceleration.
  2. Key similarities between B2B and B2C branding, as well as the crucial differences that distinguish the two.
  3. Examples of successful B2B brands, such as Gainsight, Front, and Drift, and the strategies they use to build trust and authority through thought leadership content.
  4. Two essential ways to build a powerhouse B2B brand, including developing a useful content strategy and targeting audience relevance.
  5. How to develop your B2B brand strategy through positioning statements, defining target markets, understanding buyer personas, and building an owned media strategy.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a deeper understanding of B2B branding and how to implement effective strategies that will help your brand stand out and succeed in the competitive B2B marketplace.

Let’s jump in!


Three Examples of Strong B2B Brands

Strong business-to-business brands have a few things in common. Foremost among them? Trust and authority. And for small businesses who consider themselves aspiring B2B brands, building a strong community of loyal customers is the shortcut to both.

In What Marketers Get Wrong About Community, we explained how not all communities are alike. Social followers and a list full of HubSpot contacts? Great to have, but not quite the community you should aim for. For strong B2B brands, true community comes from building high-level, thought leadership content.

This content is proof of your brand’s expertise. Just like a math quiz asks you to show proof, your thought leadership content is proof of the depth of your brand’s thinking. This kind of proof even goes beyond case studies and testimonials. A reputation for quality content shows off professional expertise.

As we said then: “Content is…a mission-critical lever to create the engagement that leads to Community (which is best established through a more editorial and value-driven way of producing content).”

The more your content marketing demonstrates true thought leadership, the more you build a community that trusts you.

Let’s look at some examples of B2B brands who do this well:



Gainsight shines as a B2B brand, focusing on customer success management and helping clients grow sustainably. They’ve built a solid reputation by providing innovative solutions for customer retention and experience, partnering with big names like Adobe and Cisco.

What sets Gainsight apart is its dedication to thought leadership, consistently offering valuable content that not only showcases expertise but also inspires audiences. They host the annual Pulse Conference, a top-notch event where industry pros exchange ideas, further cementing Gainsight’s position as a go-to resource for customer success strategies.

Gainsight’s tight-knit community, formed through authentic connections with customers, partners, and influencers, boosts its brand. This sense of community, combined with a focus on customer success and thought leadership, makes Gainsight a standout B2B brand.



Front is a client-facing communication hub for businesses: another B2B brand. How do they position themselves for thought leadership? They go beyond traditional content formats. There’s not just a B2B blog, for example. Front also offers a Front Academy with a simple click for users to “enroll.”

B2C principles are at work here—offering content in exchange for membership in the community—but without the typical “lead magnet” verbiage. It’s just a helpful academy for any B2B buyer who might need something like Front.

The result of these content marketing efforts is simple. When these buyers think about acquiring a communication hub for their business, guess who’s top-of-mind?



Drift’s conversational marketing cloud throws all sorts of thought leadership credentials at its potential B2B buyers: books, reports, events, webinars, podcasts. You can download a 2022 State of Conversations Report or a 2022 State of Sales Technology Report. Again, there aren’t any sales pitches here.

Real B2B branding comes from credibility and trust-building. If people in the conversational marketing space value Drift’s State of Conversations Report, there’s inherently trust there. And it generates the kind of capital-C Community that keeps industry professionals sticking around to see what Drift says next.


Two Ways to Build a Powerhouse B2B Brand

It isn’t that B2C brands do it better. It’s just that B2C marketing tends to take the direct approach. When B2C marketing clicks, it’s obvious, because it clicks with individuals.

When building a powerhouse B2B brand, it needs to click with other businesses. The effect can be far more subtle.

This won’t be news if you’ve read our post, Why Every Company is Becoming a Media Company. Building a B2B brand in 2023 and beyond isn’t only about “rented” media, like the amplification you get on social media platforms. It’s also about building your own distribution network for the thought leadership you put in place.

It’s no longer just about your follower count. It’s about the kind of loyal community you can build on your own terms.


#1. Build a (Useful) Content Strategy

Content remains king. For B2B companies, content is more than lead magnets; it’s proof of authority. The better your content—the more useful your industry finds it—the more your brand establishes as the go-to resource for businesses of all types.

But not any old content strategy will do. In looking at how to build a B2B brand with B2B content, we explained what makes B2B content successful: its usefulness to your industry. In that post, for example, we highlighted Gremlin’s Chaos Monkey Guide for Engineers. This guide doesn’t ask for a sale. It’s a free-to-download PDF. Yet Google “Chaos Monkey Guide” or “Chaos Monkey” and who’s one of the first to show up? Gremlin.

Your marketing strategy shouldn’t aim to go viral. In B2B brand building, your strategy should start with being helpful, then build from there.


#2. Add Specific Target Audience Relevance

The difference between a small-c community and a capital-C Community? Audience relevance. Anyone can build a large, relatively unenthustiastic community of lead magnet downloads. But in B2B, your goal is to reach decision-makers. B2B customers expect a deeper relationship, not a transaction. They have bigger budgets on the line—larger teams. If your content isn’t relevant to their exact problem, they can’t justify spending work hours engaging with your content, let alone buying from you.

This isn’t to suggest everything has to be niche-specific. But think about what your potential community is looking for. For Docsend, that means publishing content like a guide to pitch decks—exactly the kind of content another business might use Docsend for.


How to Develop Your B2B Brand Strategy

Thus far, we’ve seen some tactical examples for building a B2B brand strategy. But how do you arrive at the brand positioning to pour jet fuel into these specific tactics?

First, develop a positioning statement to clarify your strategy. This will help you separate your brand positioning goals from your tactics with digital marketing channels. They’re not the same thing. Digital marketing focuses on issues like the customer experience, or the specific ROI of your marketing initiatives.

Brand positioning is about your brand story. It’s the narrative of your entire company: its culture, its category, the type of people in its community. What is your brand’s true north? What are the values that separate it from your competitors? Until you answer those questions, your digital marketing is going to resemble everyone else’s.

Start with a strong brand strategy. Build a typical B2B buyer persona, defining your exact target market. What are their frustrations? Their concerns? What prevents them from buying from another business, and how can you answer those objections?

More importantly, how can you build an owned media strategy that answers those questions? (Note: there are exercises you can do here. See more on developing B2B brand-building strategies before you unleash your digital marketing campaigns.)

To summarize how to build a brand strategy into 5 steps:

  1. Build strong positioning. Define your brand’s values, target market, and unique selling points.
  2. Develop useful content. Create thought leadership content that showcases your expertise and adds value to your industry.
  3. Target audience relevance. Focus on content that resonates with decision-makers and addresses their specific needs and concerns.
  4. Establish owned media. Build a distribution network and community for sharing your content and thought leadership.
  5. Accelerate sales through trust. Build a reputation for authority and trustworthiness to increase reach and drive sales.

A B2B’s brand equity may not be as obvious as what you see in B2C. But that’s by design. You’re not selling a better mouse trap; you’re building a reputation as the better mouse-trap designer. When you do, you’ll get many of the same benefits as any expert brander: more trust, a better reputation in your industry, and more access to the decision-making executives at other companies thinking about buying in—in more ways than one.

JK Sparks | About the Author

Head of Marketing, AudiencePlus

JK is allergic to the words “guru, ninja, and hack” when used to describe anything marketing related. Instead of chasing the latest “growth hack,” he’s focused on building sustainable and predictable levers that fuel long term success. By implementing this approach over the last decade, JK has helped organizations in both bootstrapped and well-funded environments scale from <$100K to more than $100M in revenue. You can follow him here.

JK Sparks 6 min

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